I am attending a “community of practice” hosted by the American Bible Society–a community of global trauma recovery specialists who also are experts in Scripture engagement. It is a very interesting group and most are focused on Africa though some minister in India and South America. While a few of these experts have mental health training, most have other training–missiology, sociology, bible translators, pastoral care, and bible distribution and engagement. All recognize how trauma is a barrier to Scripture engagement and faith development. The big question we are struggling with today is the issue of developing healing/recovery models to be used in another culture. How do we minimize the communication that we in the West have the problems all figured out? How do we help support local leadership (rather than finding leadership that does what we already want to do)? What will be most sustainable?
It is good to hear how God is using diverse ideas and peoples to minister to traumatized communities. And, it is good to remember that God has gifted people across all disciplines to do exceptional trauma healing work.
4 responses to “Listening to Trauma/Scripture Experts”
I would love to hear about the healing practices of other cultures and learn from them. I think in some ways we sometimes reinvent the wheel in our culture whereas in other cultures there may be more tools already intact that serve to reconcile people and heal individuals. The opposite can be true as well where oppression and abuse can be ingrained into a family /tribal/cultural structure (both here and abroad). I think what is important to note is that contrary to our western way of approaching healing as an individual pursuit often it is approached as cultural healing, especially when there are wars and genocides. Even here whole families may need healing from trauma in both ways that they were abused/hurt but also to repent of ways that they helped perpetuate abuse.
How is trauma a barrier to Scripture engagement and faith development? Or perhaps I should first ask what is meant by Scripture engagement and faith development.
The Bible Societies exist to encourage scripture engagement amongst peoples. So, some people groups are in need of the Bible in their own heart language. Others may have the Scriptures but they only see them as a set of rules. If the God is present in his word then it really is important to help people connect to God through the Word. Things like illiteracy would obviously hinder Scripture engagement. But, it appears that trauma also hinders engagement because trauma often results in isolation, loss of meaning and faith, etc. Further, one might think that the bible has nothing to say about trauma, violence, injustice given the focus in some sectors of pushing quick forgiveness and reconcilation.
Perhaps trauma can not only hinder engagement, but also trigger disengagement and hinder re-engagement? What do you think?